Interview: Taha Malik & Rola Team on Kostal’s ‘Jaan Jaye’

December 6, 2009

“We’re a music production duo. Our style is a mixture of electronic and organic music.” – Taha Malik
As the debut video of Kostal makes way from the Internet to the airwaves, Instep catches up with Taha Malik of Kostal

By Maheen Sabeeh

Omran Shafique and Taha MalikInstep: What can you tell me about Kostal?
Taha Malik: Kostal is Taha Malik and Omran Shafique. We’re a music production duo. We first met in 2002 while working on many side projects. During the recording of Mauj‘s debut album at my studio in Houston, Omran and I would write dance and hip hop style records. As our library of ideas grew, we decided that we should compile the best and make an album of them. Of course, Kostal is much more than that now. We are currently writing/producing for other artists, movies, commercials, and any other projects we can get our hands on. The collective manifoldness of our musical backgrounds allows us to experiment with all types of styles and genres, from French rappers to rubab and tabla, to jazz-fusion, rock, Arabic… anything really. We love it!

Instep: The single, ‘Jaan Jaye‘ has been around for quite a while. How has the response been to the video?

TM: ‘Jaan Jaye’ released online for quite some time. We are extremely pleased with the response we’ve gotten from all over the world. It’s been playing on radio in Pakistan (I was surprised to hear that it was #1 for months and was most requested, even more than Timbaland’s and other Top 40 tracks), on BBC and other radio stations in the UK, United States, Dubai, Holland, Hong Kong, and pretty much all over the world, thanks to the Internet. I’ve heard it at weddings, and my friends tell me things like, “Oh, my cousin was jamming to ‘Jaan Jaye’ in Australia! That’s your song? No way?” It is a funny video and we’ve got a little surprise in the intro and outro. Uns Mufti and Ali Jafri at Rola have been really cool.

kostal Jaan Jaye 4Instep: How would you describe Kostal’s genre?
TM: There’s no one specific genre. My interest, though not limited to, has been in electronic music for years. I play the bass and keys. Omran’s been the rock and roll guy all his life. I guess if I had to forcibly define it, our style is a mixture of electronic and organic music. There’s sampling involved, but we use many live instruments, too. We may sequence the drums and bass lines or record them live. Some tracks have a gospel choir vibe, while others may have club energy or just some straight up ’70s funkiness with a crisp breakbeat.

Instep: You also worked with Omran on Mauj’s debut record, Now in Technicolor
TM: Yes, it was a great experience. I was the producer and audio engineer of Now In Technicolor. I’m really happy with how the album turned out. Omran is an amazing guitarist and songwriter, and it was a pleasure to work with him. Also, shouts out to: Atif, Dennis, Shuja, and Agha!

Instep: How does Kostal work with you in Houston and Omran in Karachi?
TM: Kostal works in mysterious ways, really. We exchange WAV and project files over the Internet. We fly to Pakistan or Houston when necessary. This is collaborative music 2.0. Artists and clients send us vocals and music beds from all over the world. Sometimes I find myself Skyping with someone in Paris or downloading a file sent from New Delhi containing a rough hummed melody. Whatever works. This is our business model.

“The concept of this video is inspired by what actually happens when any house is left alone to servants and domestic help.” – Team Rola

By Amina Baig

Uns Mufti and Ali Jafri of Rola speak on ‘Jaan Jaye’, future plans and… grape juice
Instep:The ‘Jaan Jaye’ video is quite different from your previous videos, what brought the idea for this video on?

rolaRola: The genre of music in any video can influence how it turns out in the end. The previous three videos we did were more rock oriented songs. ‘Jaan Jaye’ is predominantly dance/pop so naturally it would look different right away… do we get any marks for answering questions correctly?

Instep: Was the concept a joint effort, or is there just one person behind it?

Rola: Actually, the concept of this video was thought up quite a while ago inspired by what actually happens when any house is left alone to servants and domestic help. It’s probably not too far from real life. Install hidden surveillance cameras in your home and make your own instant ‘Jaan Jaye’ video! Vasi Hasan had this idea for ‘Machera Trance’, one of our earlier music tracks. The idea has since evolved quite a bit due to the various people that were involved in the ‘Jaan Jaye’ video and the song itself.
Instep: In the past, apart from co-VEN and Joey Paracha, ROLA hasn’t really made videos for any other artist, is there a reason behind that?

Rola: We love making videos, it’s a fun experience and we’re armed to the teeth with ideas even for songs that have yet to be made! What we don’t have, though, is a video-making assembly line that churns out shiny, plastic videos. What we don’t do is take any old song, add one instance of instant video mix, and cha-ching! For us music video-ing is a creative process and we like to hand-carve each video and watch it grow and nourish. Rather like vintage… err… grape juice.

Instep: The co-VEN videos were all fast and choppy, almost seeming like random experiments at times – deliberate or just a happy accident?

Rola: Again, the song and its energy pretty much drive the pace of the video. We probably wouldn’t do a 200-kilometer-per-hour video for a soft ballad. Nothing is an accident. Everything is deliberate. We are all happy.

Instep: There seems to be a sort of “one video per year” thing happening. Is this Rola policy, or are other more complex reasons behind this?

Rola: It’s not a policy, nothing is policy. We come across an interesting artist or song, and we want to make a video for that. It just so happens that there seems to be a “one good song per year” thing happening so far. Hopefully that will change soon. We want to be making one video per month. Bring it on!

Instep: Don’t shoot me, but bits of ‘Jaan Jaye’ are eerily reminiscent of the ‘Load the Cannon’ (Hashim) video. Was it a video that you particularly liked?

Rola: You got us! That’s exactly right. We must admit that ‘Jaan Jaye’ is a frame-by-frame facsimile of Hashim’s ‘Load the Cannon’. You have uncovered the deep, dark secret. Clever girl.

Instep: If you had to pick and choose, whom would you say is your favourite amongst video directors in Pakistan right now?

Rola: All of them! We love them all. And we love us too! Love all around.
Instep: And what do you think of newcomers, such as Bilal Lashari?

Rola: Bilal Lashari isn’t really a newcomer. It’s just that the consumer market is getting to know him now through his recent work, which is rather good actually.

Instep: Apart from the Rola duo, who else got involved in the project, and how would you say these people’s contribution was important?

Rola: Everyone’s contribution is important. Or they wouldn’t be there in the first place. For ‘Jaan Jaye’ we had the fabulous Nida Butt who helped choreograph all the dance sequences performed by the girls, and we were fortunate enough to have a cameo by the very handsome Begum Nawazish Ali. We had the wonderful Feeha Jamshed help out in all the costumes and the amazing Beenish Parvez did an excellent job in the hair and makeup department. The Kostal boys, Omran and Taha were excited about their acting stints and in the end everything gelled together to make this fun-filled video!

Instep: What other exciting projects from you can we hope from in the future? In an ideal world, what would that project be?

Rola: More of the same. A movie if we’re lucky. A good budget for the movie would be ideal! We could go on and on but…

Source: Instep Mag
Taha Malik’s Interview
Rola’s Interview